Newsflash: Virgin Mary ‘crosses the finish line’ with Olympic gold runner

Virgin Mary and Angels on mural in Abreha and Atsbeha church, Ethiopia

Africa has an image of being a continent only Christianized in the past three centuries by European and American missionaries. Most people are not aware that Christianity in Africa (North Africa excluded which was conquered by the Roman Empire) dates back to Antiquity. Ethiopia has a long culture history which began as early as 1000 BC and is often mentioned by Greek and Roman authors. This country plays an important role in Heliodorus’ (3. century, AD) Novel “The Ethiopian Night”. Judaism spread throughout Ethiopia, before Christianity was born. Having been mentioned several times in the New Testament and the Old Testament (Queen Sheba), Ethiopia became Christian already in the 1st century AD. “Christianity in this country is divided into several groups. The largest and oldest is the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (in Amharic: የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተክርስትያን Yäityop’ya ortodoks täwahedo bétäkrestyan), an Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia that was part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa Cyril VI.” (Quote from Wikipedia) Now this woman runner is demonstrating her and the ancient faith of her country to the world. 

London, England, Aug 10, 2012 / 04:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Ethiopian athlete Meseret Defar provided one of the most emotional moments of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games when she crossed the finish line in the 5000 meter race to win the gold.

She then pulled a picture of the Virgin Mary out from under her jersey, showed it to the cameras and held it up to her face in deep prayer.

An Orthodox Christian, Defar entrusted her race to God with the sign of the cross and reached the finish line in 15:04:24, beating her fellow Ethiopian rival Tirunesh Dibaba, who was the favorite to win.

A teary-eyed Defar proudly showed the picture of the Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus that she carried with her for the entire race.

Throughout the event, Defar kept pace with three other Ethiopian runners and three from Kenya, until speeding past them on the homestretch to win gold.

The silver medal went to Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya and the bronze to Dibaba.

Defar is also a two-time world champion in the 3000 meters. In Athens in 2004 she won the gold in the 5000 meters and in Beijing in 2008 she won the bronze.

On June 3, 2006 she broke the world record for the 5000 meters set previously by Turkish runner Elvan Abeylegesse, with a time of 14:24:53.

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11 Responses to Newsflash: Virgin Mary ‘crosses the finish line’ with Olympic gold runner

  1. golden chersonnese says:

    We shouldn’t forget the regions in between, the Nubian kingdoms (more or less Sudan), where Christianity survived until 16th century.

  2. toadspittle says:


    Toad watched the incident, and very touching and moving it was, too.
    Unfortunately, moments later Meseret, like every other winning athlete in these games swathed herself in her national flag and capered about for the photographers.

    Is Toad alone in detesting this, now apparently mandatory, parade of jingoistic vulgarity?
    Most likely.

    But if he had his way, he would ban all national flags and national anthems from The Games.

  3. JessicaHof says:

    Very touching. Like Usain Bolt’s Christianity, something the visual media seem unable to cope with.

  4. toadspittle says:


    How would you cope with it, Jessica?

  5. toadspittle says:

    Well, Mohamed done the business in the 5,000 metres, all right, dinnee?

    Just think how far he’d have won by if he’d made the sign of the cross first!

  6. New to this blog, a rare Cradle English Catholic, now residing as a dual national of England and America in Scottsdale AZ.

    Toadspittle, I disagree, the Olympics are today about nations whether you like it or not. If I were to win a Gold Medal for both myself and my country, having struggled, strained and trained at great cost in time and money, i too, would wrap myself in my nations flag and jump up and down for joy.

    It is to be noted that the Ugandan winner of the Men’s Marathon as well as the American fourth place finisher both made the Sign of the Cross on crossing the finish line.

  7. toadspittle says:

    Welcome David.
    Your disagreement is also welcome. This obssession with flags ans nationalism ¡s not to my particular taste, but no matter. It doesn’t cause me to lie awake fretting. Maybe it should.

    I suppose it should also be noted (though I don’t really know why) that Mo Farah did not make the sign of the cross when winning the 5,000 and 10,000 metres.
    But then, he’s a Muslim.

  8. kathleen says:

    I watched as much of the Olympics as possible, crazy as I am on sport, and enjoyed them immensely.
    As I mentioned somewhere on here during the Games, I noticed many many athletes making the sign of the cross before competing, saying a prayer, or thanking God afterwards, especially athletes from the USA, Africa or Eastern Europe. I found it a truly very warming and gratifying surprise for our secular times!

    Toad, that is what I think Jessica meant by her above comment (written some days ago now). The media is in large part entirely ‘secular‘ nowadays, considering religion of any sort as being out-dated, unnecessary, and perhaps even stupid!! Secular humanism is the current ideology of our day. This contrary realisation is an eye-opener for much of the media: to discover that there is still a large portion of the world’s most successful athletes who put God first in their lives. These prime athletes, who have achieved praise and fame, are demonstrating to the world at large that they are small before God, and how all our efforts, our works and achievements, all our desires and destinies are in God’s Loving Hands.
    This reality is extremely baffling to secularists.

  9. JessicaHof says:

    Toadspittle – I cope with it fine, but am sorry to see you seem to have problems. To each their own tiny cross.

  10. toadspittle says:


    Well Jessica, if your own cross is tiny, I hope you are grateful. Toad’s is virtually non-existent (so far) and he certainly is, if not grateful, certainly thankful. Which will have to do.
    But just what problems do you envisage him having? Believing impossible things? It causes him no pain. Even mental.

    …And what this has to do with the Olympics, is debatable. Oh, well.

  11. toadspittle says:


    “This reality is extremely baffling to secularists.”

    Well, you might be right, Kathleen, but I doubt it. Secularists probably just laugh and say “How silly and superstitious!” (Though, who knows?)
    Just ike when Toad spills some salt, he religiously(!!!) throws a bit over his left shoulder.
    Much to the amusement of his wife.
    Well, one never know, do one? (F.Waller.).

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